Reflecting on Stephen Strasburg, his contract, and what to expect moving forward


Sorry, this isn’t information of a major breakthrough between Main League Baseball and the Gamers Affiliation. There are nonetheless solely scraps to feed off of when it comes to precise baseball information in the mean time whereas the 2 sides proceed to posture and make small progress.

As a substitute, we’re looking at one thing of a $245 million elephant within the room for the Washington Nationals, right-hander Stephen Strasburg.

Simply over two years in the past, Common Supervisor Mike Rizzo and Strasburg sat within the press room at Nationals Park gleefully speaking about how the pitcher’s new seven-year contract would all however make him a Nationwide for the remainder of his profession.

“It’s nice for me to say that I’m going to be a Nationwide for all times,” Strasburg stated. “To have my children be right here too and expertise being Nationals for all times as effectively, that’s one thing that I’m actually lucky with.”

It was nearly a no brainer for the Nationals to make it occur as simply a few months earlier, Strasburg put the ending touches to one in all his greatest main league seasons thus far.

The best-hander made 33 common season begins to the tune of a 3.32 ERA whereas hanging out an unimaginable 251 batters and strolling simply 56, all earlier than shining in October and selecting up the World Collection MVP award within the Fall Basic.

Even after he opted out within the aftermath of the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, there was nearly no method that the Nats had been going to let Strasburg ply his commerce elsewhere.

His debut was the primary defining second of a brand new period for baseball within the nation’s capital. Then his efficiency, not simply within the World Collection, however all through the postseason, helped give the staff the most important defining second in franchise historical past.

Strasburg needed to be again in Washington, administration and possession needed him again in Washington, and most of all, the followers needed their World Collection hero again in Washington.

Since then although, to say issues haven’t gone to plan can be an understatement.

Over the past two years, Strasburg has pitched simply 26.2 innings throughout seven begins, coping with quite a lot of illnesses which have had him on the Injured Listing as a substitute of on the mound.

Given his earlier harm historical past, no one was anticipating Strasburg to instantly grow to be a workhorse who would make 33 begins each season. However to not even crack double-digit begins over the past two years is a large concern, particularly as Strasburg has inherited the mantle because the staff’s highest-paid participant with the departure of Max Scherzer.

That’s left many questioning the Nationals’ resolution handy out such a hefty contract to Strasburg. As anticipated although, the staff’s GM is assured the right-hander can bounce again…

“You’ve by no means heard me say seven years for a pitcher is a good suggestion,” Rizzo stated after the staff’s commerce deadline sell-off this previous July. “They throw a baseball very, very quick, many, many instances, and it’s an unnatural motion.

“However we decide and select who we wish to give these long-term offers to, and I’ve stated this many, many instances, it’s the individual that we’re signing, not the participant, and we acquired ourselves an incredible participant with Stras and even higher individual.

“We’re going to get the utmost out of Stephen Strasburg that we will, he’s going to be champing on the bit to get again on the mound and we anticipate him to work extraordinarily exhausting to get again and he’ll.

“And also you guys know when he’s on the mound he’s nearly as good as anyone in baseball. In order that’s our expectation, get him again on the mound wholesome, and we anticipate him to be an incredible pitcher for us.”

For many accidents, it wouldn’t be an enormous deal for Strasburg to attempt to come again from it and hopefully resume being his dominant self when totally wholesome once more.

This time round, nevertheless, it’s not fairly as clear a path again because it has been beforehand.

Halfway by final season, Strasburg was recognized with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and shut down for the remainder of the 12 months with the hope that he can be prepared for Spring Coaching.

“We simply spoke to Stras,” Rizzo stated on the finish of the 2021 season. “He appears nice, he feels nice, he’s going to start throwing the start of subsequent month, and our expectation is that he’s going to be pitching to organize for the season in the beginning of Spring Coaching.”

TOS is changing into increasingly more widespread in pitchers these days, and the outcomes haven’t been too promising for many who come out the opposite finish and pitch within the majors once more.

Maybe essentially the most notable occasion of TOS for an MLB pitcher was Matt Harvey. The previous New York Mets ace appeared primed to be a dominant starter for a very long time earlier than his 2016 season was minimize quick after ache in his shoulder and fingers.

Earlier than TOS, Harvey was routinely dwelling within the upper-90s along with his fastball. After TOS although, Harvey’s velocity saved dipping and dipping, typically barely getting above 90-91mph in outings.

Whereas it appears as if Strasburg will get again on a big-league mound once more, the truth that different pitchers who’ve returned from TOS look a shadow of their former selves leaves an enormous query mark hanging over him and whether or not he can adapt.

Even in a possible best-case state of affairs for his restoration the place Strasburg proves he’s able to return and pitch successfully this spring with probably decreased velocity and stuff, there’s nonetheless the truth that he’s not pitched a lot the final two years and certain means the Nationals will deal with him with nice care early on within the 12 months in an effort to maintain him off the Injured Listing.

That’s the best-case state of affairs, and even that’s fairly bleak. The probably eventualities contain Strasburg needing extra time, presumably lacking the beginning of the common season, as he will get to some extent the place he can face up to the trials of being in a big-league rotation once more.

With 5 extra years left on his present contract, the previous can be a sight for sore eyes and supply a glimmer of hope that Strasburg can construct himself again up once more. The truth, nevertheless, is that this appears like the start of the tip for the franchise icon…

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